State titles up for grabs |

State titles up for grabs

Darrell Moody

Five area teams and several individuals invade Southern Nevada today for the NIAA Cross Country Championships at Veterans Park in Boulder City.

The meet features boys and girls runners in all three divisions. The Division III boys race kicks off the action at 9 a.m.

Carson’s boys and girls teams and the Douglas boys squad will be competing for their respective Division I titles, while the Sierra Lutheran boys and girls teams are competing in Division III. The Centennial boys have won the last two state titles in Southern Nevada.

Individually, the Division IA Dayton Dust Devils will be represented by Aaron Elissa, Joe Law and Katrina Breithaupt.

Carson coach Pete Sinnott said his squads have run well this week, and several runners have overcome colds and appear completely healthy.

“We have had a pretty good week of practice,” Sinnott said Thursday night. “The weather has been cool, so it’s been perfect running weather. The weather is supposed to be in the 70s in the Las Vegas area.

“We weren’t really ready last week or the week before, but we’ve gotten better every week. It’s really exciting that both teams made it. Each team hoped the other was going to make it. We have really good camaraderie. We train together as a team all year. I don’t split them (boys and girls).”

On the boys’ side, Carson’s group of Anthony Cacioppo, Tylar Chester, Nick Greene, Bryen Holoway, Daniel Jauregui, Porfirio Jauregui and Chris Merriner will be looking to sneak into a medal spot.

Centennial and Galena are expected to battle for the boys title. Centennial’s Jackson Carter, Dajour Braxton and George Espino placed first, second and fifth on the Boulder City course last week. Galena placed four runners in the top eight last week at Rancho San Rafael and all seven runners placed in the top 20.

Coronado, Green Valley, Foothill, Shadow Ridge, Palo Verde and Douglas, led by Brandon Pankey, are the other Division I teams entered.

Reno’s Jordan Cardenas and Galena’s Matt Paulsen and David Curtis are expected to challenge for the individual title against the talented Centennial trio.

“Galena is probably the favorite,” Sinnott said. “It will be a pretty good battle with Centennial. I’m hoping we can run well enough to sneak into third place.”

On the girls’ side, Centennial appears to be a heavy favorite with Sydney Badger and Katie Gorczyca leading the way. They went 1-2 at last week’s Sunset meet.

Arbor View, Palo Verde, Coronado, McQueen and Galena join Carson in the hunt for the team title.

Sinnott likes the way his girls team is rounding into shape in recent weeks.

“We started the season nine minutes behind Galena, and now we’re down to less than a minute,” Sinnott said. “We were five minutes behind McQueen and now that’s down to a minute. If everybody runs a super race I think we could wind up third. The girls have a good shot.”

Alex Drozdoff is definitely a top-five contender, and freshman Evelyn Delgado could surprise some folks today. The Senators also will need strong runs from Athena Favero, Cindy Juchtzer and Shelby Brown to make a medal run.

Breithaupt has a good chance for a top-10 finish in the Division IA race based on her strong showing last week. She said she isn’t a big fan of the Boulder City course because it’s relatively flat and she considers herself a good hill runner.

Sierra Lutheran has a shot in both boys and girls at finishing in the top three in team scoring. Erin Henry (girls) and Donovan Harrison (boys) are the best shots at getting individual medals.